Hospital radio stations, playgroups, a women’s refuge and swimming clubs were all recipients of this year’s £25,000 Hall and Woodhouse Community Chest.
Dignitaries from across East and West Sussex joined volunteers and community workers at Arundel’s Black Rabbit pub last night (Friday September 22) for the county’s 10th community chest presentation.
The chest, which also runs in the brewery’s other main trading area of Dorset, has now given away more than £500,000 to groups across the South of England.
A total of 24 groups from right across Sussex were presented with cheques by the judges, including Gary Shipton and Blaise Tapp of Sussex Newspapers, Adrian Barrott of Sussex Community Foundation and John Scudder, the landlord of the Plough Inn at Ifield, near Crawley.
They received a record 250 applications this year.
Grants awarded on the night ranged from £300 to £1,820 and were picked up by a wide range of groups including Eastbourne Survivors, Horsham Town Community Partnership, St Joseph’s Specialist School & College and Children with Cancer Fund (Polegate)
Mark Woodhouse, chairman of Hall and Woodhouse, said: “I never cease to be amazed by the number of amazing projects which are supported by volunteers and this year we were incredibly impressed by the quality of applications.
“The task of judging the community chest is never easy but this year it was especially tough.
“This is the 10th year of the chest here in Sussex and we have seen, once again, how important these cheques are to our local groups and clubs.”
Mr Shipton, the editor-in-chief of Sussex Newspapers, said: “We are privileged to support Hall and Woodhouse’s Community Chest as it really makes a difference to the local groups and charities within our local areas.
“They have proved that their commitment to the community is long term and we are delighted that we are able to support this fantastic initiative in our pages and on our websites.”
Denis Byrne of Sussex Prisoners’ Families, a Brighton-based charity which has connected with 998 families in the past three years, was delighted with the £1,500 it received.
He said: “What the funding helps us do is to help us train volunteers all over the county. It allows us to provide travel expenses for families and helps us buy a coffee or a sandwich for them if they are in court all day.”
Friday was a night of double celebration for Chichester Hospitals Broadcasting Association, which was not only celebrating its 45th anniversary but also picked up a cheque for £1,500 which will go towards an overhaul of its studio at St Richard’s Hospital.
The station’s Peter Edgeler said: “It is very important for us to get this grant as we are a relatively small organisation and you cannot expect 30 or so volunteers to keep putting their hands in their pocket.”
Another hospital radio station, Radio DGH Eastbourne, picked up £1,700 and Richard Barnicoat, who has volunteered for the group for 40 years, said: “This money is very important to us as we rely on public donations as we don’t get any funding from the NHS. We are lucky that the DGH Trust lets us have the premises for a peppercorn rent.
“The main thing we are doing is providing a service, either to one person or 25 or 30 people. We are putting a smile on somebody’s face.”
Zoe Ridpath, from Shoreham’s Adur Special Needs Project, which runs play sessions for children aged between five and 15, was delighted with the £1,500 which will help with the project’s running costs.
She said: “The children have so much fun, it is really nice and we are like a little family.”
Carolyn Heitman, chairman of the South Downs Riding for the Disabled Group at Slinfold, near Horsham, was delighted with the £1,850 which they will use towards the upkeep of one of their ponies, Puzzle, for a year.
She said: “We are a charity and money we do get, we have to raise. Everybody who works with us are volunteers.”
Adur Special Needs Project - £1500
Ashurst Village Hall - £1500
Blueprint 22 - £1500
Chichester Area Mental Health Support Foundation (CAMHSF) - £720
Chichester Hospitals Broadcasting Association - £1500
Children with Cancer Fund (Polegate) - £500
Citizens Advice Eastbourne - £1500
Eastbourne Survivors - £1420
Horsham Town Community Partnership - £1250
Ifield Barn Theatre Society - £1000
Just Different - £800
Langstone Sailability - £540
Mary How Trust - £700
Mid Sussex RDA - £750
Partridge Green Area Response Team - £500
Radio DGH Eastbourne - £1,700
Safe in Sussex - £900
Sapphire Stroke Club - £500
South Downs RDA - £1820
St Joseph’s Specialist School & College - £1500
Sussex Prisoners’ Families - £1500
Sussex Otters Swimming Club - £600
Worthing Disabled Swimming Club - £700
Yews Talking News of Mid Sussex - £300